ABC axes Lateline and The Link

The ABC is set to announce it will be axing its current affairs show Lateline along with its current affairs program The Link.

Lateline host Emma Alberici will be appointed as economics correspondent, while Stan Grant will host a new discussion program on ABC News along with becoming an international reporter covering Asia.

Alberici joined the program back in 2012 after a promotion from her previous role as Europe correspondent.

In 2014, Lateline came close to receiving the chop, but was saved after a public campaign was able to change the board’s mind. They did, however, move the program to the 9.30pm slot on the ABC News channel and cut the show’s budget by a quarter.

The show has suffered from poor ratings, with host Tony Jones leaving in January of this year.

ABC director, news, Gaven Morris said in a statement: “When it launched in 1990 Lateline was a ground-breaking program, and for almost three decades it has made an enormous contribution to Australian public life.

“Many great ABC journalists and production teams have worked with Lateline and the current team has produced an innovative brand of late-evening current affairs. The Link was a bold experiment that has done wonderful, creative work.

“This proposal is no reflection on the excellent work of the program teams. But with audience habits changing, we can deploy these resources more effectively in other ways.

“Viewers are as well-served as ever with daily and weekly television news and current affairs on ABC TV and on the ABC News channel.”

The decision follows a proposed reorganisation of the ABC editorial structure, with staff now grouped into teams depending on content, be it TV, online or radio.

Lateline’s executive producer Lisa Whitby will head up a new specialist team of reporters and producers across the following verticals: technology and science, regional communities, consumer affairs, education, health, arts, culture and entertainment, social affairs, and Indigenous.

Two new television programs would also launch in changes proposed for the 2018 season: a prime-time news discussion show at 9pm on the ABC News channel, presented by Stan Grant, and a half-hour late edition national news bulletin at 10.30pm on the ABC TV main channel.

“These proposals represent a big investment by the ABC in investigative, specialist and in-depth journalism at a time when many other media outlets are retreating from these areas,” said Morris.

“Public interest journalism on behalf of all Australians is more important to the role of ABC News than ever.”

John Lyons, the ABC’s head of investigative and in-depth journalism, added: “Alongside teams such as Four Corners, 7.30 and Background Briefing, the establishment of the largest investigative daily news team in the Australian media reflects the ABC’s growing commitment to journalism for television, radio and digital audiences.”


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